Blogs Explained – Again

It’s February 25, 2008, some might think it’s too late or redundant to explain what a blog is. The timing couldn’t be better to talk about blogs now. Blogs used to be strictly personal thoughts shared among the web savvy. Today, blogs continue to provide a freedom of expression while at the same time offering something useful for business, a marketing opportunity.

I’ve been blogging for 7 years. Initially I got onboard because of my curiosity. Being in the web industry, I’m continually looking at emerging trends. In February 2002, I posted this message to my douvan.com blog; “What’s a blog? It’s like having a diary but everyone can read it. blogs (aka “web logs”) can be used for all sorts of different things. Some people use them to vent, some use them to communicate to others indirectly. Some use them to let friends know how they’re doing, etc.”

Wikipedia defines blog as:
A blog is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. “blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs.

So, what is a blog?
A blog is just a Web site driven by a content management system. What makes it so popular? blogging itself made the blog popular. Blogging is publicized by most other media as a legitimate output format. Today’s blog is easy and possible as a result of the applications created by programmers. Blog tools and programs make it possible for anyone to manage content on a Web site.

Who is a blogger?
Even Martha Stewart is blogging. A blogger is a content contributor. Thanks to the blog applications, a blogger can be anyone, HTML skills are not required. As often as possible, the blogger should post content in the form of news, opinions, text and links to her blog space. The title of blogger has in fact become esteemed in the eyes of the public. The blog is recognized as its own media channel like newspaper or radio. Some people are full time paid employees in the position of blogger.

Technology has made it easy for anyone to be a blogger. And anyone can have a blog. Remember, a blog is just a Web site. A blog page on your existing website can help to increase content and provide information in a way your visitors demand.

Create Valuable Content
When the content in your blog is valuable, you create a web environment where visitors can interact with you. Valuable blog content are the words, pictures, audio or video related to your industry. The text found throughout the rest of your site, such as product pages or company history is given from the company perspective. Your industry blog should be written from a personal point of view. Visitors are more likely to identify with the blogger than the head office. The blogger can gain additional trust and credibility by allowing feedback and posting comments.

If you don’t have a blog, get one.
The marketing opportunity is to provide feedback using this social media and increase search engine rankings as a result of the valuable content. A blog will bring more visitors to your Web site and allow your visitors to give their opinions.

Google Experiments

Google is always experimenting with new features aimed at improving the search experience and so far, it’s been pretty obvious that they know what they’re doing. Most people in this part of Ontario use Google every day, multiple times a day.

The Search Engine of choice in fact is Google by over 85% compared to the other Search Engines. One of the reason why Google is so popular is that theyr’e always improving the user experience with enhancements or expanding on new ideas.

Join an experiments to see how it can improve your search.

  • Alternate views for search results
  • Keyword suggestions (I’ve been using this one for a while, it’s fascinating to see the suggested searches)
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Left-hand search navigation
  • Right-hand contextual search navigation

Check them out and if you’ve got the time, join one of the experiments and share your experience. You might even find it will save you time.

Canadian Market Healthy – 21.8 million Internet Users

Canada is a relatively mature Internet market. 65.3% of the people in Canada use the Internet at least once in a month. There will no doubt be some growth in the future. What this means to me; Canadians are using the Web, which is good for all of us marketing on the Web. Check out the complete ClickZ article.

Spam Report

In the last few months of 2007, spam has become more inventive.

In 2007 spammers waged stock pump-and-dump campaigns on the public using Adobe Acrobat PDF format files in order to evade traditional defenses. Later in the year this moved-up a gear by using other file attachment formats, including Microsoft Excel, Word, ZIP and more notably, MP3. The latter example comprised of an audio file attachment where the recipient could at last listen to the spam message being relayed to them.

Although overall spam has gone down slightly, the proportion of spam that is new and previously unknown has increased and is now more sophisticated and more difficult to stop using simple traffic management controls, such as traditional anti-spam software and appliances.

Several of WeGo.ca’s Clients have noticed an increase in spam messages which were not being filtered as usual. There has also been an increase in the number of bounce-back spams in 2007. This is where spammers spoof the from: and reply-to: addresses in the original spam message. The spoofed addressee then receives a bounce-back message from the recipients’ mail servers when the message cannot be delivered correctly. In some cases this may work as a form of social engineering, as the recipient may believe a non-delivery report to be genuine, and is then duped into reading the spam message.

For more statistics on spam and email threats, please visit Barracuda Central, a 24/7 security operations center that continuously monitors and blocks the latest Internet threats, at http://www.barracudacentral.com/.

What You Can Do to Fight Spam?

1. Enable Outlook 2003 Spam Filters. Microsoft Outlook® 2003 has many new features to block junk e-mail (spam). The most notable feature is Microsoft’s Junk E-Mail Filter with Microsoft SmartScreen Technology. SmartScreen Technology is based on a machine-learning Bayesian technology that uses a probability-based algorithms to determine whether email is legitimate or spam. Visit Visit SiteDeveloper for a full tutorial and explanation on how to enable full spam filtering for Microsoft Outlook 2003.

2. Ignore Delivery Failures of Messages You Did Not Send. If you wonder why you are getting delivery failures for messages you know you did not send, the cause is likely junk-mail from a spammer. You should delete these messages without opening.

3. Don’t Respond to Spam Messages. Never respond to a spam message in your inbox. This usually results in more spam. Encourage friends, coworkers, and relatives to NEVER respond to spam and to avoid purchasing anything that is being marketed via spam.

Need More Help?

If you find that spam is still clogging your inbox, there are additional steps we could take. Contact me to discuss if a third party spam filter provider or mail server upgrade is right for your e-mail account.

Legion of Influencers Use E-Mail

Is the current definition of “influencer” too narrow?
Everyone has some influence, but people with larger networks use more technology to spread theirs, according to “Understanding Influence, and Making It Work For You: A CNet Networks Study.”
Highly connected people use e-mail to keep up with their dozens of contacts. In fact, they use e-mail far more often than the phone to stay in touch.

The study also found that regardless of how connected they were, everyone was interested in about the same number of topics, and that influencers tend to pass along information they consider both unique and trusted. “Influencers” in this sense are people interested in a topic who are trying to spread the word, not just an elite set of people with charisma or sway.
The number of “influencers” who could contribute to a word-of-mouth campaign is therefore huge, since most of the population is at least moderately connected.

It all comes back to having something worth spreading the word about. Marketers surveyed by Osterman Research for BoldMouth, a Faber, Va.–based word-of-mouth marketing company, said that satisfied customers, along with great products or services, were the most important things needed to generate word-of-mouth.

Spread the word more effectively. Read eMarketer’s E-Mail and Word-of-Mouth: Connect with Your Best Customers report.

Outsourcing Web Needs and Any Other Business Specialties

A business teacher of mine told me about a problem his former student was having. The student had recently started a business. The business teacher went for a visit and found the new-business owner struggling in front of his computer with a stack of receipts and bills. The business owner explained that he had some accounting to do and it was just taking too long. He was spending two days a month doing his books.

The answer to this account problem is outsourcing. The new business owner wasted two days he could have been out selling or doing his actual business. Those extra days work could more than pay for a bookkeeper. The quality of a Bookkeeper’s work would also be superior.

If you are here looking for a Webmaster to handle your next project, it is probably because your expertise is not in the field of web design and development. Outsourcing your web project is a good idea. It frees up the time it would take you to learn and create a web product, and concentrate on what you do best, sell your product or service. There are many skills and abilities that a seasoned Webmaster can perform. Let’s face it, unless you are in the internet industry, you would be wasting a lot of time attempting to learn the web business.

Outsourcing can make your business easier to run and more profitable. You’ll free up time and resources so you can concentrate on your core business concerns. WeGo offers a broad range of integrated web services to move your company forward. More than ever, business survival depends upon the ability to effectively market and promote your services online, as well as keeping costs down. For your next web project, outsourcing may be the perfect solution to make the difference in your bottom line.

How many small businesses use e-business?

As defined by Industry Canada’s 2006 report – Key Small Business Statistics.

Engaging in electronic business (e-business) is defined as leveraging “the Internet for providing or sharing information, or for delivering services, and/or realizing some or all of its revenues from Internet based transactions and/or the manufacture and sale of Internet-related products or services.” In addition to online purchases and transactions (referred to as e-commerce), e-business includes portfolio management, business planning, and Internet or intranet-based communication between a business and its clients, suppliers and other partners.

Embracing e-business can offer many benefits to a firm, regardless of its size. Using the Internet as a business tool can improve coordination within the production process, improve communication with suppliers and customers, optimize supply sources and increase a firm’s presence in the marketplace.

However, the extent to which firms use e-business, and for what purposes, varies considerably depending on a firm’s size.

Strategis Report PDF

Link to Report History http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/h_rd01252.html

Search, Search, Search…

Yeah, I’ve been searchin’

A-a searchin’

Oh, yeah, searchin’ every which a-way

Most of today’s online users probably aren’t familiar with the Coaster’s hit of the 60’s, but they know the feeling.

According to a new study just released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Search engines have become an increasingly important part of the online experience of American internet users.” On an average day, nearly 60 million people use search engines.

Over the past year there has been a sharp increase in search activity. From June 2004 to Septemeber 2005 the use of search engines on a typical day rose from 30% to 41% of the internet-using population, which itself has grown in the past year.

At the same time, the total number of people using search engines on an average day jumped from roughly 38 million to about 59 million — an increase of roughly 55%.

comScore Media Metrix data, derived from a different methodology, show that from September 2004 to September 2005 the average daily use of search engines jumped from 49.3 million users to 60.7 million — an increase of 23%.

In either case, it is clear that the use of search engines is edging up on e-mail as the primary internet activity on any given day.

However, the Pew data shows that on a typical day, e-mail use is still the most popular internet activity. On any given day, about 52% of US Internet users send and receive e-mail, up from 45% in June of 2004.

Obviously, e-mail continues to be a powerful application accounting for a great part of users’ online time and attention.

Overall, there is little difference between the sizes of the e-mailing population and the search-engine using population. Pew data shows that 91% of all Internet users have at one time sent or receive e-mail, compared to 90% of Internet users have used search engines.

To put e-mail use and search-engine use in perspective, Pew compared them to other Internet activities on an average day.

According to the latest comScore data, Google is the most heavily-used search engine. In October 2005 the site had 89.8 million unique visitors, followed by Yahoo! Search with 68 million unique visitors.

For more information on this topic, read eMarketer’s Search Engine Marketing report.

Level of Search Engine Optimization Not Optimal

Less than 10% of the Fortune 100 is effectively using search engine optimization for their Web sites, according to a new study by Oneupweb.

Integrated search engine marketing firm Oneupweb analyzed the main corporate sites of Fortune magazine’s top 100 companies to determine the level of effectiveness with which
each company has used search engine optimization (SEO).

The analysis indicates that the number of companies effectively using SEO is quite
small — only nine of the 100 companies in the study. Oneupweb’s
criteria for effective use is based on the practice of both “ethical” and “unethical” SEO
methods. “Ethical” methods include pertinent keywords in tags and relevant
titles and body text, whereas “unethical” methods include invisible
text and image links, keyword tags not related to the business sector
and other methods used to trick search engines.

Those deemed moderate SEO users by Oneupweb are those firms which employ too few
optimization techniques or use enough but employ them ineffectively.
Moderate SEO users account for 47% of the Fortune 100. About the same
percentage of companies, 44%, use no SEO at all. This is a slight change
from a survey Oneupweb conducted in 2002, which found that over 50%
of Fortune 100 companies did not use SEO at all, while 44% used some
methods, and only 3% had effectively optimized their site for search.

Comparing the level of SEO to a company’s position in a search engine’s rankings,
Oneupweb finds that search engine optimization can pay off. Companies
with effective SEO often end up in the top 10 search results on Google
for their respective keywords. This year, 7 out of the 9 firms effectively
using SEO had placement in the top 10 Google results presented for
a search on their respective primary keywords. On the other hand, a
lack of SEO efforts results in over 80% of those companies missing
the Google top 10 list altogether.

Although there has been a general migration towards SEO, Oneupweb is surprised that
it hasn’t been adopted by more companies since 2002. Indeed, while
the number of firms not using optimization at all has dropped below
50%, analysts expected many more effectively-optimized sites in 2004 — as
many as 30. Oneupweb expects a future study to show all of the Fortune
100 employing at least moderately-optimized sites.

Although Fortune 100 companies often benefit from name recognition and a commanding
position in their industry, poor site design can still result in lower
search engine rankings. Conversely, competitors have an opportunity
to take advantage of this sluggishness by making sure their SEO is
top notch so that they can gain a higher profile in search results
and thus among online customers at large.